Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting Monday 5th December 2016

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, Goshka Bialek, Liz Brown, Mike Costello, Alan Doig, Ann Evans, Simon James, J & S Knowles, Jackie Levitas, Brendan McKeown, David Miller, Simon Priestley, Carole Reeves, Jean Rogers, Doug Scott, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson
Cllr Nigel Martin, Cllr Richard Ormerod
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Morag Crichton, David Ramsden, Simon Squires, Clare Wright
PCSO Steven Bell, PCSO Rebecca Carey
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
In the absence of police representatives, Roger Cornwell summarised their written reports
a) PCSO Steve Bell reported: A cycle found in a back garden was assumed to be stolen, although no theft had been reported. There had been three burglaries, all from student houses. At the most recent, in The Avenue, a rear window was smashed to gain entry, the same technique as in two burglaries near to the Science Site last week where blood was left behind, therefore DNA evidence will be forthcoming.
b) PCSO Rebecca Carey reported that in the last month she had:
  • issued 2 Community Protection Notices for noise (both in the Crossgate / Nevilles Cross area)
  • issued 11 Community Protection Warning Notices (of which 8 in the Crossgate area)
  • issued one fine for urinating in the street
  • made 18 alcohol seizures
In the week before term ends, the beat team will be carrying out extra patrols and working half night shifts on some nights to try and minimise disruption to residents.
c) Following Rebecca's advice that residents either e-mail her or phone 101, there was some discussion of responses on the 101 number: Goschka Bialek had been told that the police were too busy to come out, and found the officer dismissive and unhelpful. Mike Costello confirmed that he had found it necessary to insist on escalating his complaints. Liz Brown had spoken to Dave Coxon, Neighbourhood Inspector for Durham, on similar lines. It was agreed that Roger would pursue this on behalf of the CCP.
d) Roger had received two separate messages from the police about their actions on the use of mobile phones while driving; unfortunately, these seemed to be describing two separate operations, and did not match up. Chief Inspector Graham Milne had said: "I have asked Insp Coxon to instruct one of his officers to make contact with you and attend your next meeting so that we can devise a plan for the specific area that you have made reference to. This will involve the Roads Policing Unit working with the Neighbourhood Team and dedicating specific resources at key times to gauge the extent of the issue and report back to your meeting. This is not something that is sustainable in the longer term but a period of activity will certainly help inform the motorists and after an initial push then sporadic and random patrols will certainly keep minds focussed." No such approach had yet been made. Mike proposed a photo survey, and undertook to try this.
e) Priorities: with the approaching end of term, student nuisance remains a priority, as does dangerous cycling (including riding without lights). It was agreed that the use of mobile phones while driving should be reinstated as a priority.
4. Minutes
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
5. Voluntary Code of Practice for Letting Boards
Mike Costello reported that a meeting of DURF (Durham University / Residents Forum) had been attended by Stephen Reed, Sarah Eldridge and Chris Baxter. They were moving on towards statutory controls, and would consult in the New Year. Meanwhile, Mike had had a meeting with Terry Collins and Ian Thompson at which letting boards were one of the topics discussed. Although the Council claim to have matters in hand, there can be no harm in continuing to send photographs to Pam Glaister (Enforcement Officer).
6. Bus Station "Consultation"
Roger and Simon Squires have both lodged formal complaints about the conduct of this exercise, and both have received very similar replies, dismissing the different points they made. Both have escalated the complaint to the next stage of the process. In addition, both have lodged Freedom of Information requests, asking for the raw data from the 2014 consultation, which the Council claims as very positive. There continues to be very little indication of what will happen to the current bus station site.
Mike had also discussed this with Terry Collins and Ian Thompson, and had told them that the bus drivers were very favourably impressed by the temporary arrangement in force during the closure of the North Road for roadworks. They had discussed the possibility of doing a walkabout exercise, but this needed to be deferred until the New Year, when the Christmas suspension of the closure was over.
Simon Priestley intended to submit an FOI request for the options appraisal which should have been undertaken before the Council committed itself to a particular course of action.
7. Landlords housing students in family homes (C3) without seeking planning permission
Doug Scott reported on the case of 24 Nevilledale, which was let to 6 students at some time in September / October; he understands this to be representative of about a dozen properties across the City in which landlords missed the September deadline but have let the properties to students anyway. The Council's officers say that this can be reversed, but the process will take from 10 to 12 months. Doug felt that the process was not fit for purpose, and that the conversion to HMO should have been stopped before the tenants moved in: the council had advance warning when the property was bought by an established local landlord. The case was discussed, and it was suggested that if the property was not on the HMO register, the landlord was committing an offence, and was therefore not a fit and proper person to be running any HMOs in Durham. The Council officers thus far involved were within the Planning Department, but Cllr Nigel Martin would ensure that the HMO licensing officers were also aware of the situation.
Mike had reported to the Council that 7/8/9 Juniper Way all had 'To Let' signs, although they are not currently student homes, and residents had been assured when the development was built that there was no need for a covenant as they were not suitable for student housing.
8. December Planning Committee
a) Holly Street / John Street PBSA: the Planning Department is recommending approval, counter to the interim policy on studentification. The CCP confirmed its opposition to this. Roger will be speaking on behalf of the Neighbourhood Planning Forum.
b) The application for retrospective approval of 16 Nevilledale, which was deferred at the November committee, is not listed for hearing.
9. Reports from Local Councillors
a) Nigel had attended a meeting with the University about its Masterplan, and had been favourably impressed by the desire of the University to improve relations with local residents. They hope to have the Mount Oswald colleges open in 2018; consideration is being given to safer walking routes able to take large groups of students at the same time; meanwhile, the future of Dunelm House is on the desk of the Secretary of State.
b) The County Plan is being delayed pending the release of a White Paper on housing which will change the methodology by which need is assessed.
c) Richard Ormerod had attended the County Durham Environment Awards.
10. Date of next meeting
Our next meeting, on Tuesday 10 January 2017, will be our AGM.